Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Missals and Liturgy.

My Liturgy bookcase. Or a 'resource centre' depending on how peculiar you are.
The Roman Seraphic Missal.

'I will go unto the Altar of God'....

Liturgy is the language we use to praise God in both solitary and corporate worship. Arranged by the Church and by divine injunction, it is the distillation of centuries of worship and praise. Being in the situation I am in, there is a vast amount of Liturgy (or 'praise resources' if you want to make me shudder) out there to use. The Book of Common Prayer, at it's best, is beautiful and peculiarly English, the English Missal is available, as is the Roman Missal, the ASB and Common Worship (whatever that might be). I want to look, for a brief post, at that exciting time during the Second Vatican Council when the Fathers published the Interim Missal and the brief but historically interesting outcome of that.
I have a Sacramentary published in 1966, promulgated by Cardinal Spellman of New York which was distributed around the world as the New Mass. It begins with the prayers at the foot of the Altar, the confiteor and so on, has only the Roman Canon (in Latin) and the traditional ceremonies at the Coffin for the Requiem Mass. Most of it is in English with some Latin, the rubrics assume that the Altar faces East and that Mass will be Low or High. Into it are sellotaped the four new Eucharistic prayers and a few later additions which were used until the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated in it's fulness by Cardinal Bugnini of whom I shall say no more, apart from whispering 'protestant' and 'freemason' behind pillars in the loggia.
The text and translation in this Missal is beautiful, very similar to our English Missal and in fact the return to this rite would do more for true ecumenism and the spread of the Catholic faith than any amount of ARCIC documents and meetings. As you may be aware, the Religious Orders had their own Missals before Vatican II, hence the long deliberations over the Dominican rite and the Praemonstratensian (who clearly have never had to pay for engraving by the letter) Rite. The Franciscans, two years later promulgated their own New Missal as well, the Seraphic Missal pictured above which, sadly, was superseded almost immediately by the Novus Ordo Missae. Nowadays, the Orders tend to produce localised ordo's each year with the saints Feast days and additional prayers if appropriate. This seems a shame to me, one of the glories of Monastic life has always been the advancement of liturgy and within the constraints of the new Missal, this seems impossible to achieve. I wonder if anyone but Anglican Liturgists with too much time on their hands look at such books now? A great wealth of liturgy flowered and was then dead headed during Vatican II, will this be the next thing to be resurrected by liturgy groups? Will there in the future be a Missal of Paul VI Society dedicated to keeping such literary gems as 'Father, your love never fails. Hear our calling. Keep us from danger and provide for all our needs' (collect, 9th Sunday of the year, year B) and giving grants to Priests to learn how to play the guitar in an embarrassing and cumbersome fashion?
I'm off to window shop for thuribles. Happy eve of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple.